ARMS: My Testpunch Impressions

If you’ve been following my Twitter ranting over the last few days, you probably know what’s coming…

Over the weekend, Nintendo opened up the floodgates and allowed the world to join in its Global Testpunch, a pair of weekends dedicated to showcasing and stress-testing its new ARMS franchise. I’ve made no secret of my ambivalence to the game (fighting games just aren’t my thing), but I wanted to give the game a chance before writing it off, so I dusted off my boxing gloves and went a few rounds with Nintendo’s springy fighter.

The quick version of this post is that while I can see the appeal of the game, I’m not still not all that impressed or enthused. My detailed thoughts can be found below.

  • The stages were a bit more different than I first anticipated, but outside of the smashable pillars in the laboratory arena, they still felt pretty similar. Unlike Splatoon, where you were encouraged to explore every nook and cranny of the map, the nonstop action of ARMS (unless it was a three-player battle; more on that later), kept your focus on the task at hand and not the scenery.
  • The character designs were pretty cool, but it felt like the weapon choices differentiated them more than their special abilities. The difference between Spring Man and Monster Mummy was less noticeable than the difference between the Slapamander and the Megaton. (Of course, had I been better at the controls, the character differences may have been more apparent.)
  • Speaking of the controls: Using the Joy-Cons in the thumbs-up grip was really awkward at first (I had to keep rotating them to make sure they were facing the right way), and I ended up resorting to Wii-era ‘flicking’ instead of throwing punches. While it felt better with practice, there were a couple of commands that I thought should have been mapped to different buttons. Specifically, I though the dash/jump and special attack triggers should have been switched, and having the targeting button as the Up D-button was a terrible choice (they probably should have improved their auto-targeting controls rather than mapping it to a button). I tried the Joy-Con Grip during my last testpunch round, and while the controls felt more familiar, my performance seemed to suffer.
  • One-on-one battles were straightforward enough (and pretty intense!), but three-player free-for-alls were underwhelming because they encouraged players to hide on the periphery and let the others duke it out, and then swoop in for the kill shots once everyone else was weak. The team battles were better, however, and the tethering mechanic added a neat twist.
  • Volleyball was okay, but it was a bit of a chore. Targeting the ball was a problem, and once a player scored a point, it seemed like they could quickly respond to the serve and go on to score several in succession. Close games were exciting, but they also seemed a bit rare.
  • The network connection seemed pretty solid, with only a few disconnects and only one battle with noticeable lag/teleporting (as if Ninjara needed any more help with that…) The real-time battle updates in the lobby were pretty cool, and the emotes were a nice touch, although I liked the canned phrases of Mario Kart 8 better (generic and inoffensive as they were).

In truth, however, there were two things that sunk this game for me:

  • I had been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf before my second testpunch round, and I distinctly remember thinking halfway through the round, “You know, I’d like to take another crack at catching a tiger beetle right now…” If a game can’t keep my attention from drifting to a slow-paced life sim, that’s a red flag.
  • My arms and elbows started getting really sore from all the flicking, and as someone who has battled repetitive-motion injuries in the past, any pain like that is a total non-starter.

While some commentators gushed over ARMS so much that I questioned whether we were part of the same testpunch, nothing I saw over the weekend changed my opinion about not buying the game. It’s certainly a unique take on the fighting genre, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if it gained a Splatoon-like level of hype and prominence. I’ll just be watching from the sidelines while it happens.

Why I’m Excited For Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Image From Polygon

Back when I discussed the future of the Mario RPG series, I mostly ignored the Mario/Rabbids crossover that was rumored to be coming at the time, partially because we didn’t know much about the game at the time, and partially because it sounded “like most of Mario’s gang will be reduced to cameo roles in the game.” In the wake of yesterday’s massive leak regarding what’s now billed as Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, however, it’s time to start taking this game seriously.

Reaction to this announcement has been a bit mixed, seemingly ranging from cautious optimism to outright disgust. While I’ll admit that there are a few aspects of this game that concern me, on the whole I’m actually interested in this idea because it presents the perfect opportunity to shake up a series that was in need of refreshing.

Both Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario have grown heavily reliant on existing characters from past Mario titles, and while Nintendo’s has made the formula kinda-sorta work up until now (or not, given some of the critiques of Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam), at some point the company was going to need more than just battle system tweaks to inject some new ideas to add some life to the series. The introduction of the Rabbids (and maybe other characters from the Rayman universe, and maybe even all-new character designs) provide an opportunity to expand the Mario universe and give us more characters to interact with than ten Toad palatte-swaps. Maybe Mario & co. could fight Vermi-Dogs, or Zombie Chickens, or Scissor Birds, and maybe different types of Rabbids could inhabit towns as NPCs. The possibilities for variety are enormous, and we haven’t been able to say that about either Mario RPG successor in quite some time. (The same goes for the environments, as even a “twisted” desert or ice world would be more original than the usual generic ones.)

The relatively large number of playable characters also hints at a return to a more-traditional party/battle setup for the game. Mario RPG fans have been clamoring for the return of partner characters for quite some time, and while Rabbids dressed as Mario characters probably weren’t what they had in mind, they’re the closest thing we’ve had to non-Mario PCs since Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Having 8 different characters to play suggests that the game will scrap the Mario-and-occasionally-Luigi-vs.-the-world style of prior games in favor of the three- or four-person party seen in most standard RPGs. (Honestly, I wish they’d go even farther and scrap the action-command system as well, but that’s a staple of Mario RPG games at this point, so I won’t hold my breath.) In addition to the new Rabbids, I’m curious to see how the game handles Peach and Yoshi, as neither has seen the character-building that the Mario bros have had over the years. Is Peach more Daisy-like than we imagined? What exactly does “the explosive head” description mean for Yoshi? Even “eagle eye” Luigi might be in line for some new quirks! I’m not sure what’s coming, but I’m very curious to find out.

Of course, change for the sake of change isn’t alwaya good thing, and there are a few tidbits about the game that make me a little nervous:

  • According to The Game Historian, Shigeru Miyamoto rejected Square’s proposal of equipping Mario with a sword because it didn’t square (no pun intended) with the Mario universe…and the laser cannons being advertised here seem even less suited to the series.
  • The released documents promise “humor & self-mockery,” but Mario RPG games have always been known for this kind of stuff (especially PM: Color Splash), so I’m not sure how much farther Ubisoft can go with its humor before it wears thin.

On the whole, though, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle feels like the breath of fresh air the Mario RPG series needed. It also feels like a low-risk move for Nintendo: The company can just return to Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi if the game flops, and whatever damage it might do to the Mario legacy will be quickly forgotten the minute Super Mario Odyssey hits store shelves. (Actually, I would argue that the worst-case scenario would be a repeat of the Square/Nintendo saga: M + R Kingdom Battle becomes a hit, Ubisoft and Nintendo have a falling out over something, and the game winds up a beloved one-hit wonder that never gets a proper sequel.)

So I say bring on the laser cannons and cosplaying rabbits! I’ll need something to play in between Splatoon 2 marathons, and it’s nice to see Nintendo swing for the fences and take a risk with its IP (even a small one) for a change. If Rabbid Luigi becomes the next Geno or Goombella in the process, so much the better.

My Reaction To The ARMS (+ Splatoon 2) Direct

Yesterday, Nintendo aired a new Direct presentation centered on its next big Switch release ARMS, and closed with a small single-player trailer for Splatoon 2. While I’m not a huge fan of fighting games and really couldn’t care less about ARMS at this point, I was curious to see exactly what the game would include, and find out definitively whether or not there was enough here to change my opinion. Let’s dive in, shall we?

  • The character design is pretty decent here. There’s a lot of variety in both the aesthetics (standard fighters, ninjas, pop stars, autonomous robots, non-autonomous robots, etc.) and functions (each character seems to have some unique ability to distinguish them).
  • The arena designs, on the other hand, are not terribly inspired. They all look nice and have some small differences, but for the most part they seem interchangeable.
  • The various non-fighting modes are nice, but they look kind of shallow and may not have a lot of replay value. Dunking opponents through a basketball hoop made me laugh when I saw it, but I feel like both that and the volleyball mode would get old pretty quickly. Grand Prix reminded me of the old Mortal Kombat “climb the ladder” setup (which I never really enjoyed, but a lot of people did), and 1 vs. 100 has a Super Smash Bros. vibe to it (actually, I wasn’t a huge fan of that mode in SSB either). Andre from GameXplain muses in their Direct discussion that the single-player content here will be pretty light (perhaps even lighter than in Splatoon), and I think he’s on to something.
  • Back in my E3 post, I said that Nintendo should adopt the Splatoon-style approach of releasing more (free) content in the months after the game’s release. Not only is Nintendo doing this, but they’re going a step further a running a “Testpunch” event across two weekends to give players a taste of the game (and the company’s servers a taste of the loads they’ll see in production). This is a great move to get skeptics like me to give the game a spin with no strings (springs?) attached, and perhaps convince them to take a chance on buying the full game.
  • The highlight of the Direct for me was the Splatoon 2 trailer, and it was as good as I had hoped. The single-player mode has more enemy and weapon variety (although I didn’t see the “Hero .96 Gal” I wanted), and builds nicely on the lore from the original game. While I’m not 100% sold on the “evil Callie” theory that’s been floating around, it would certainly be an interesting plot twist. (I also like the Hero Suit design a lot more now—the clothing now screams “cool Squidbeak splatoon member” instead of “highway safety worker.”)
  • I’m starting to think Nintendo’s going to owe Blizzard some royalties with its upcoming titles, because I’m seeing a huge Overwatch influence in both ARMS and Splatoon 2:
    • The character roster in ARMS feels very Overwatch-like in its composition (very diverse) and some of its specific designs (Mechanica is basically a ten-year-old D. Va).
    • In addition to the similar Splatoon 2 special attacks (the Ink Slam looks a lot like Lucio’s Sound Barrier, while the Jet Pack makes me think of Pharah’s Barrage), if the “evil Callie” theory is indeed true, then she’s basically Widowmaker. (It’s too bad that Marie wasn’t the captured one, as her charger preference would have made her the perfect Widow clone.) Honestly, I’m kind of hoping for more of this sort of thing (the charger equivalent of McCree’s Deadeye would be both awesome and terrifying).

In the end, this Direct was a 90% no-op for me: I’m still not that excited by ARMS, and I was already super-hyped for Splatoon 2. Still, that last 10% is key, because the ARMS Testpunch might be the thing that finally gets me excited about that game. (At the very least, the event will be worth a good blog post afterwards.) With these two games and the mountain of 3DS titles coming this summer, Nintendo appears to be heading into E3 with the most momentum that it’s had in years.

What’s The Problem With Playable Sonic OCs?

For months, the Internet had been speculating about the mysterious third playable character in the upcoming Sonic Forces game, throwing out guesses ranging from a tail-less Tails to Bubsy the Cat. Yesterday, Sonic Team put an end to the mystery by releasing a trailer revealing that the third character would be…a customizable avatar created by the player.

For any other game franchise, this move would have been greeted with applause and acclaim—after all, who doesn’t like giving their PCs a personal touch? The Sonic franchise, however, has a rather unique history with fan-created OCs (though in truth, this sort of thing exists in any fandom), causing the reaction to be split between “this is the greatest thing ever” and “repent, for the apocalypse is coming.”

Personally, I don’t understand where all of the negative reactions are coming from. Part of my confusion stems from the fact that I only ever owned a Sega Genesis and thus haven’t played a real Sonic game since Sonic The Hedgehog 2, so I never truly came into contact with the crazy OC designs that everyone rants about, and thus I lack the historical perspective that longtime Sonic fans have. However, my primary issue with the criticism is that regardless of how you feel about people’s custom hedgehogs, as far as I can tell these designs it won’t affect your personal experience with Sonic Forces.

Based on what we’ve seen of Forces so far, the game appears to be a completely single-player adventure, with no online or local multiplayer features. While could this change in the future, I have strong doubts about this, as straightforward Sonic games like this one aren’t a great fit for multiplayer action. Trying to keep the camera focused on multiple characters traveling in different directions in a game like New Super Mario Bros. was a royal pain in the neck; with Sonic characters doing the same thing at warp speed, it would be darn near impossible. Unless Sonic Team tacks some small minigames onto Sonic Forces (for example, something like the Chaos Emerald ring runs from Sonic 2), you’ll probably be playing this game by yourself.

What the above statements means is that while players can go crazy creating wild and wacky OCs, your in-game interactions with other players and their creations will be minimal to nonexistent. No matter how well- or poorly-designed someone else’s character is, it won’t impact your personal experience with the Sonic Forces story. Let people create invincible purple-striped wolves with tragic backstories and post their designs on Twitter if they want—your copy of the game will remain a pristine sandbox for you and you alone. Why get mad over something that won’t affect your game?

This is why I think the customizable OC option was an absolutely brilliant move on the part of SEGA and Sonic Team. It empowers players to let their imaginations run wild and bring their amazing creations to life, but doesn’t force them to deal with other OCs whose designs they don’t like. Sounds like a win-win to me! (SomecallmeJohnny also makes some good points about how character creation gives Sonic Forces a) a way to stand out from other Sonic games, and b) a feature to entice players into buying the game. I couldn’t agree more with the latter point: The gameplay seems a little scattershot and not terribly interesting thus far, but I’m genuinely intrigued by the customization feature.)

In short, I fully support Sonic Team’s move to bring OCs into Sonic Forces, as it fulfills the dreams on half the Sonic fanbase while minimally impacting the experience of the other half. Now, if you excuse me, I have a super-cool cat OC to create…

What Console Should Pokémon Stars Appear On?

Image from Geek.com

There are certain dreams in life that are universal, such as world peace, the eradication of cancer, and playing a full-fledged Pokémon game on a home console. We’re still working on the first two, but Nintendo fans have been frothing at the mouth over the possibility of the third finally becoming a reality.

Pokémon rumors have been swirling around the Switch since before the new system was announced, but with E3 right around the corner, the current speculation is that a new version of the game (likely the usual “third version” of Pokémon Sun/Moon) will be announced within the next month or so. One important piece of this puzzle, however, remains unclear: What system will the game actually be released for?

On the surface, the choice seems obvious: The Switch is a shiny new system that features both a portable way to play and a ton of momentum (both in terms of buzz and actual sales), while the 3DS is an aging platform with considerably weaker specs. Pokémon is an immensely-popular game that can drive hardware sales (a lot of people bought a 3DS just for the game), which is exactly the kind of game Nintendo need to keep the Switch hype train going. The question isn’t why Pokémon should come to the Switch, it’s why shouldn’t it come to the Switch?

The problem, however, is that despite its disadvantages, the 3DS can still make a strong case for keeping the Pokémon series:

  • The 3DS may be aging, but it’s aging gracefully. Its install base is 66 million+ strong,* it just got a new hardware refresh with the New 2DS XL, and a bunch of new games are coming to the system this year. Its long-term future is still a bit murky, but it isn’t going away anytime soon.
  • The Pokémon series has never been known for stunning visuals—rather, it’s the gameplay that draws people in, and Nintendo has shown time and time again that Pokémon can thrive without cutting-edge graphics. Outside of the visual upgrade (and it’s worth noting that the Switch’s graphics aren’t exactly cutting-edge themselves), what upgrades does the Switch’s horsepower offer? Unless Nintendo wanted to radically redesign the franchise’s core gameplay (and I have to admit, the idea of wandering around a Breath of the Wild-style world while catching and battling Pokémon in real-time battles sounds pretty awesome), they don’t really need what the Switch offers.
  • I speculated earlier that the 3DS was being positioned as a cheap entry-level system for younger gamers to contrast with the Switch’s more-mature target audience. While many of Nintendo’s franchises either favor one of these demographics or have a logical split between the two, Pokémon is a universally-beloved game across basically every demographic you can think of. It’s perfect for hooking youths on Nintendo hardware, while its competitive battle scene, complex set of battle mechanics, and strong nostalgic appeal keep older players coming back over and over.

*Random fun fact: Worldwide 3DS sales (66.12 million) exceed the 2016 popular vote counts of both Hillary Clinton (65.84 million) and Donald Trump (62.98 million).

So which system should the next Pokémon appear on, the Switch or 3DS? I offer the following Socratic answer: Why does this have to be an either/or question?

If Pokémon is a good game for casual and hardcore gamers alike, then it should appear on both systems. Pokémon 3DS would be the classic Pokémon adventure we all know and love, along with some additions that would benefit new players (showing which attacks are super or not effective against an opponent the first time they see them, for example). Pokémon Switch, in contrast, could include some competitive-specific tweaks, such as the ability to view IV and EV counts directly (none of that poor/decent/above-average/best/etc. obfuscation) and perhaps a way to assess a wild Pokémon’s potential the moment you encounter it. Sure, Pokémon 3DS wouldn’t have the visual polish of its Switch cousin, but it would still be Pokémon, and that’s all that matters. (If Nintendo wanted to take this even farther, they could split their 8th-gen Pokémon games across the two consoles, give both versions some exclusive Pokémon, and let players on one console trade and battle with players on the other.)

In short, Nintendo’s strategy should be to get Pokémon in front of as many gamers as possible, and if they ask “Should the game be on the 3DS, or the Switch?”, my answer would just be “Yes.”

Is The Switch’s Card-Saving Change Really A Good Idea?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that when users have a choice between convenience and security, they pick convenience every single time.

When the Nintendo Switch first came out, its eShop did not include an option to save a person’s credit card information for future purchases. It’s a feature that most e-commerce sites include and most consumers have come to expect, and thus Nintendo took a lot of heat for leaving out what seemed like an obvious feature. Fast forward to the present, and Nintendo recent eShop update (which adds a card-saving feature) is being met with sighs of relief and cries of “What took you so long?” Most people view this move as a Good Thing™since it makes purchasing eShop games a lot easier…but is there a downside to this decision?

As I discussed previously, the Switch is a potential (but poor) candidate for being used to spy on its user’s daily activities. However, there are lots of other reasons why someone would steal or hack a device, and perhaps the biggest reason of all is to obtain sensitive information (personal, financial, etc.) that the attacker could then use for their personal benefit. If the Switch starts saving credit card numbers and similar data, its value as a hacking target increases substantially.

After digging into the issue a bit, I’m afraid that it’s good news/bad news time once again, and it’s mostly bad:

  • It’s unclear exactly where your credit card data is stored once it is saved on the Switch. On one hand, there are strong hints that this data is stored “in the cloud” (i.e., somewhere on Nintendo’s servers) rather than the Switch itself: Nintendo has explicitly stated that credit card data is never saved directly on the Wii U or any member of the 3DS family, while also saying that “information stored on your Nintendo Account [via the Switch] can also be used for off-device purchases.” However, I can’t find a definitive statement from Nintendo saying the data is not stored on the Switch itself. It’s good news if the data is truly not saved on the actual hardware, but it’s worth noting that gaming companies don’t have a great track record of protecting data on their own servers (recall the 2011 Sony hack).
  • Speaking of server-side storage: As Polygon user VioletP notes, we also know nothing about how the credit card data is stored. Is this data encrypted in any way, or is it stored in plaintext for the world to see? (If you think that would be an obvious decision for any company, think again.) What sort of legal protections/regulations affect this data? (Do we even know which country, as thus which legal system, has jurisdiction over this data?) Until Nintendo becomes a bit more transparent on issues like this, we have to assume that this is bad news.
  • The Switch’s authentication infrastructure is a large step backwards from the Wii U (and most other e-commerce sites). Users are encouraged to put in Switch in sleep mode when not in use instead of turning the device off outright, and the only thing the system asks you to do when woken up is hit the same button three times (and I doubt they’re doing any machine learning to discern the true owner’s button-mashing style). Even worse, as you can see at the 1:30 mark in the above GameXplain video, the Switch’s eShop gives you the option of not having to enter your Nintendo Account password to confirm purchases, so any random user can just pick up your console and use your information to buy games. While the damage is limited to unauthorized eShop purchases, it’s still really bad news.
  • The Switch was hacked within days of its release, and it was done via an known iOS exploit. This indicates a lack of awareness and/or commitment to security during the development of this device, which is a huge red flag. Nintendo has since announced a bug bounty program aimed at discovering vulnerabilities in its hardware, but the fact that known bugs wound up in the system from the start is bad news for any data that might be living on it.

Thankfully, security-conscious users still have the option of not saving their credit card data and avoiding this thicket of uncertainty, and this is the strategy that I would recommend. (Seriously, how much time do you actually save through this change? Thirty seconds? A minute? Is that really worth putting your financial data at risk?) The fact is, however, is that most users will click that check box with a smile, thinking about the precious seconds they’ll save buying Puyo Puyo Tetris while also making it easier for unauthorized individuals to do the same thing. (But hey, at least the Switch isn’t storing your health care data…until the next Wii Fit game comes out.)

In short, Nintendo needs to be more forthcoming about the wheres, whys, and hows regarding user data, and beef up its authentication framework around the device as well. Until that time comes, we have to assume that saving any important data on the Switch is a bad, bad, bad idea.

What Is The Future Of Nintendo’s 3DS Line?

Image From Nintendo

A few months ago, we were all wondering how quickly the Nintendo Switch would kill off the company’s existing 3DS handheld line. Now I’m beginning to wonder if the 3DS might end up outliving the Switch…

Not only did Nintendo reaffirm its commitment to the 3DS in its last Direct presentation, it has now doubled down on its older handheld by announcing the New Nintendo 2DS XL, which will be released July 28th with a larger first-party launch lineup (Hey! PikminEver Oasis, and Miitopia) than the Switch had two months ago.

From a hardware perspective, the New 2DS XL is perhaps the perfect version of the 3DS line, as it has everything you want (sleek clamshell design, updated/more powerful internals, amiibo support, C-stick controls, a massive game library with full DS backwards-compatibility) and nothing you don’t (unused/uninteresting 3D capabilities, a stiff $199 price tag). Given the impressive 3DS sales up to this point, one wonders how many more of these things Nintendo could have sold if it had released something like the New 2DS XL from the start.

From a business perspective, however, this decision seems a but counterintuitive. The Switch is a perfectly good handheld console in its own right, so why would Nintendo continue its older, arguably inferior 3DS line alongside it? Wouldn’t the two consoles eat into each other’s market share? In theory, yes…but Nintendo appears to be subtly positioning its two consoles to target vastly different audiences, in order to keep them from stepping on each other’s toes.

Ever since the beginning, the Nintendo Switch has been specifically marketed to the young adult crowd:

  •  Its initial trailer features no children whatsoever.
  • The hardware is sleek, modern, and much more fragile-feeling than prior Nintendo consoles, and not the sort of things you want to let your five-year-old touch.
  • The Switch’s flagship games (Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey) are long, large explorations that cater to experienced players.
  • The Switch also makes a play for the e-sport crowd with Splatoon 2.

Contrast that with the 2DS and New 2DS XL:

  • Aside from a few older folks playing Super Smash Bros.the introductory trailer for the New 2DS XL features only children.
  • The original 2DS was an ugly-looking slate, but it also had their air of indestructibility that was a staple of past Nintendo consoles. The New 2DS XL takes this a step farther, as its clamshell design offers more protection to the console’s screens. While broken hinges have plagued some iterations of the 3DS, I’d be willing to bet Nintendo has hardened the pivot point on the New 2DS XL.
  • Some of the upcoming games are decidedly not hardcore titles—in fact, you could argue that they are watered-down versions of the genres/franchises they represent:
    • Hey! Pikmin is a 2D pseudo-platformer rather than a 3D time-limited resource-management game, and several reviewers who went hands-on with the game described it as a “casual sidescroller,”  a game “aimed at younger siblings,”and “a good introduction to the series for young players.”
    • Miitopia is an RPG focused squarely around your Mii characters and their interactions. The story doesn’t appear to be particularly deep, and battle is a very hands-off affair (you only have direct control over one character), so longtime RPG fans may find this title a bit thin. Instead, the game comes across as a silly-fun game that will appeal to younger players who want to gather up their friends and face off against their parents/teacher/etc.
  • Outside of Pokémon competitive play, there’s no real sport buzz around the 3DS line.

Given all this, it feels like Nintendo is actively pushing its 3DS line to be its “gateway drug” into the world of Nintendo. It’s a cheaper, more-durable, and even stylish system that seems tailor-made for a younger audience, something to distract them from their parents’ Switch until they can be trusted with it. This indicates that not only will the Switch not kill off the 3DS line, but that the 3DS and 2DS could potentially soldier on for many years into the future as the Switch’s weaker-but-enjoyable younger sibling.

However, such a conclusion raises a question about how Nintendo will split its iconic franchises between the two systems. For some franchises, this is an easy one: Mario, for example, has a natural split between its 2D and 3D titles, so one could easily see the New Super Mario Bros. successors moving to the 3DS while open-world adventures like Super Mario Odyssey become a Switch staple. For other franchises, however, the division is less clear. Do larger 3D games like Zelda become Switch exclusives while smaller 2D games like the Kirby series stay tethered to the 3DS line? Do more games follow the Pikmin model and develop a casual/hardcore split? And where in the world does Pokémon fit into all this?

For now, however, it’s clear that the 3DS line still has some life left in it, and if Nintendo follows through on its apparent kid/squid adult hardware split, it will remain a strong pillar of Nintendo’s business model for a very long time.